5 things we saw from the Raiders in week 8

Sep 25, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Oakland Raiders players Clive Walford (88), Kelechi Osemele (70), Derek Carr (4), Gabe Jackson (66) and Latavius Murray (28) celebrate after defeating the Tennessee Titans 17-10 at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Oakland Raiders players Clive Walford (88), Kelechi Osemele (70), Derek Carr (4), Gabe Jackson (66) and Latavius Murray (28) celebrate after defeating the Tennessee Titans 17-10 at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders pulled out an overtime victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Derek Carr’s 41 yard TD pass. Seth Roberts broke free and raced into the end zone with 1:45 left in overtime. This game was a back and forth battle, but it should not have been. Penalties killed the Raiders and could well have cost them the game, but they escaped with the win. It was either a thriller or frustrating to watch, depending on your point of view.

A win is a win, however the Raiders still have plenty to clean up if they want to take division. The Chiefs and Broncos are hot on their tail and both are playing good football. All it takes in one slip up to possibly cost them a shot at the playoffs. There is plenty of good things happening for Oakland as well and so far they have been able to overcome quite a bit of adversity to win games. Here are 5 things we saw from the Raiders in week 8:

Giants: Giants GM Jerry Reese Speaks About State Of Team, Refuses To Talk About Josh Brown
Packers-Falcons: Packers Lose a Shootout in the Georgia Dome.
Bengals-Redskins: Redskins tie in London 27-27 against Bengals.
Raiders News: Mychal Rivera fighting his way back into the Oakland’s game plan.
Raiders News: Oakland fights back to keep the team in town.

5 – Derek Carr is a gunslinger:

Derek Carr, Raiders
Derek Carr, Raiders

A gunslinger in NFL terms is basically a passer who is fearless when it comes to throwing the ball. When you have one as your QB, you normally take the good with the bad. The best example is Brett Favre. He would make the dumbest throw one play that would have you wondering what the devil he was thinking and then the next one is a hall of fame worthy bullet or a touch throw dropped in the basket which has you amazed. He got away with a lot of risky passes, but he also paid the price on some.

Carr is a lot like Favre in that he is not afraid to put the ball up. He is a bit more calculated about it than Favre was, but he is still every bit the gunslinger. We see far more good throws from Carr than bad ones. He joined some elite company on Sunday with over 500 yards passing on 59 attempts with 4 TDs no INTs. His offensive line afforded him pretty good protection and he had plenty of time to pick the Bucs defense apart. He is having an MVP type of season thus far. The Raiders are really going to need this to continue on Sunday night against the Denver Broncos.

4 – The defense has gotten better:

Nelson Joseph
Nelson Joseph

The Raiders defense played better in the last two weeks and particularly in this game. They kept the Bucs offense on their heels for most of the game. There were penalties that should never happen such as 12 men on the field (twice) and there were only 10 men on the field on one of the Bucs TD plays. On the go-ahead 82 TD drive there were 44 penalty yards. That’s over half! Despite having to come from behind, the defense only allowed an average of 4.4 yards per play and 270 overall. They did so without CB Sean Smith who suffered a shoulder injury early and did not return.

I have been very critical of the defense thus far, so it is only fair to give them praise when they play well. I would even argue that Khalil Mack sets the tone for this defense. When he plays well, the whole defense does. Jameis Winston heard Mack’s footsteps all day. He recorded 2 sacks and 4 QB hits. When the offense took their foot off the gas after coming back from a 10 point deficit with 17 unanswered points, the defense actually kept them in the game and gave them the chance to win it in overtime. They just need to keep on improving.

3 – The offensive line is very good:


I usually mention the Raiders running back committee for the simple reason that a balanced offense is desirable and the running game is a good way to wear down a defense. The committee again eclipsed the century mark without anyone rushing for over 100 yards. The unsung heroes who make that possible is the offensive line. We all know that the game is won or lost in the trenches and this offensive line wins far more of those battles than they lose. They have been very solid all year thus far.

Derek Carr was only hit 3 times and sacked twice in 59 pass attempts. In other words, he was only touched every 19.6 times he dropped back. If you give your QB that kind of time, you are doing a pretty good job. The Raiders have the 3rd ranked offense in the NFL thus far and that is attributed to the offensive line. The offense is ranked 4th in passing and 5th in rushing. Having 2 elite WRs and very good change of pace RBs is a big help, but if the QB can’t get the time to find them or there are no holes to run through, it does little good. They can give Denver’s defense fits and if they do, the Raiders can beat the Broncos.

2 – The coaches are capable of making adjustments:


I have been very critical of the coaching staff about their lack of adjustments. After a dismal first half, the Raiders actually came out and reeled off 14 points on their first 2 possessions of the second half. I also saw a few minor in-game adjustments as well. They are still far from where they should be. The offense took their foot off the gas again and went conservative until they found themselves in the hole; not the kind of adjustment you want to see. I may be crazy or I could be seeing things, but that is how it looked to me.

It was refreshing to see them come out after halftime with some adjustments that actually worked. It is too bad that they didn’t keep it going and put the game out of reach, but it is a start. This is something that they must continue to improve upon if this Raiders team is going anywhere. The AFC West has 2 coaching staffs in the Chiefs and Broncos who are among the league’s best at adjustments. The Chargers are not too bad at it either so if they are going to beat these teams, Coach Jack and crew better keep improving on this.

1 – Flags, flags, flags:

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots
Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots

The Raiders set an NFL record with 23 accepted penalties. In all, there were 27 flags thrown against the Raiders with 5 of them declined, including 2 on one play. There is no excuse for penalties like the Raiders committed in this game. Coach Del Rio said in his press conference that some unintentional and unavoidable fouls committed during the heat of battle do happen and I agree with that. Players sometimes grab and hold, get their hands where they shouldn’t be or even commit blatant penalties to avoid giving up a huge play or a score. I get that and I’m good with it.

What is inexcusable are pre-snap penalties, mental errors and penalties after the play is over. Here is a list of the penalties in this category which were committed:

  • 5 personal fouls for 72 yards.

  • Illegal formation twice for 10 yards.

  • False start twice for 10 yards.

  • 2 flags for 12 men on the field on defense for 10 yards.

  • Ineligible downfield for 5 yards.

  • Intentional grounding for 14 yards

  • Block above the waist for 10 yards.

Right there is 14 of the 23 accepted penalties for 131 of the 200 yards which a disciplined team would not have committed. Take those out and you have 9 penalties for 69 yards and a game that the Raiders win by a much larger margin and without overtime. It is easy to blame the refs, and there are a lot of times where they do tend to flag the Raiders more, but this is not one of them. This is on the coaching staff. Why, you ask?

The answer is simple as said by Patriots head coach Bill Bellichick: If it isn’t being coached, it is being allowed to happen by the coaches. It turns my stomach to give him credit for anything, but he is spot on here. All of the above penalties are due to a lack of discipline from the players and coaches. Football 101 includes things like lining up correctly, having the right number of personnel on the field, knowing when you can block and where, and not moving before the snap on offense, self control; things like that. The Raiders had a hard time with football 101 on Sunday.

Winning in a dramatic fashion is all fine and good but the coaches can’t let it overshadow the fact that they had a hard time with the basics. Heads need to roll. Some may think that is a bit harsh or that I’m complaining despite winning the game, but it has to happen. The Raiders 6 wins are against teams with a combined record of 18-26. Their 2 losses are against teams with a combined record of 10-5. I don’t mean to detract from their wins. They were gutsy, hard fought victories but it does illustrate that you can get away with more against less talented teams or even ones who are not playing their best. You cannot however, make those kind of mental errors against good teams and expect to win games.

There is a very big divisional game coming up against the Broncos in prime time. This is a must win for the Raiders if they wish to take the division from Denver. The Chiefs are also chasing and are only a half game back and the Chargers are playing a lot better. The Raiders home loss to the Chiefs makes this game even bigger. If they lose on Sunday Night Football, they will have a hard time winning the division because they will have to do it on the road in San Diego, Denver and Kansas City; not an easy task. Who knows? Perhaps the Raiders would have an easier time doing so given their 5-0 road record this season. They just need to keep cleaning things up and defend the home turf; starting on Sunday night.




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